Plaque Rupturing Cholesterol

Last October, Dr. Jung San Huang of the Saint Louis University School of Medicine determined that cholesterol contributes to atherosclerosis; i.e. artery plaque. Reuters was on it:
Cholesterol is known to promote plaque build-up in blood vessels, which raises the risk of heart attack, and other cardiovascular problems. Now, new research suggests that cholesterol does this by reducing the activity of a chemical called transforming growth factor (TGF-beta).


"The finding that cholesterol causes atherosclerosis (plaques) by attenuating TGF-beta responsiveness in...cells could lead to the development of novel and effective therapies for atherosclerosis," senior investigator Dr. Jung San Huang told Reuters Health.
I know, not exactly new news, but important nonetheless. Now, get this. New research claims that total cholesterol is linked to the risk of plaque rupture. More from Reuters:
In individuals without symptoms who have thickened walls of the carotid arteries, two major arteries located on each side of the neck that provide blood and oxygen to the brain, the total blood levels of cholesterol are strongly associated with the presence a lipid, or fat-based," core within plaque, which have a vulnerability to rupture, researchers report.


"We know that a lipid core, made up of fatty dead tissue deposits, within an atherosclerotic plaque puts the plaque at risk for causing an adverse clinical event, such as a stroke if the plaque is in the carotid artery or a heart attack if the plaque is in the coronary artery," lead investigator Dr. Bruce A. Wasserman told Reuters Health.

To identify factors associated with a lipid core, Wasserman of Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Baltimore, and colleagues examined subjects taking part in a study of atherosclerosis, also referred to as hardening of the arteries. All of the subjects were free of cardiovascular disease and were among participants with the thickest carotid artery walls, as determined by ultrasound.
Okay, here’s a no-brainer—lower cholesterol! Not sure how? Dr. Fuhrman offers up some advice for getting your cholesterol down. Check it out:
A vegetable, fruit, nut, and bean-based diet has been shown to be the most effective cholesterol-lowering dietary approach in medical history. This newsworthy data with the potential to save millions of lives has been ignored by the mass media. With this dietary approach, most patients drop their total cholesterol below 150 and LDL below 100, without the need for medications. In areas of the world where people eat a diet of unrefined plant foods, people have total cholesterol levels below 150, and there is zero incidence of heart disease in the population1…


…The dietary program I recommend for heart-disease reversal utilizes natural cholesterol-lowering therapies instead of drugs, which eliminates the risks of drug side effects. And because my dietary program is richer in fiber and nutrients than the typical vegetarian diet, my patients achieve spectacular reductions in cholesterol, body weight, and blood pressure. Fortunately, this approach also can help those who already have heart disease. They can avoid future heart attacks and reverse and remove atherosclerosis.
And trust me, not only is Dr. Fuhrman’s approach effective—it’s delicious! Oh, and for more on cholesterol, don’t forget about Wednesday’s post Low Cholesterol and Cancer-Risk.
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Health Points: Wednesday

On Monday, Pfizer took the doctor and inventor of the artificial heart off the mound as pitchman for the world's best- selling medication, after his credentials - in medicine and in his own exercise regimen - came under fire.

In the ads, which began their heavy rotation on TV and in print in 2006, Jarvik touts the benefits of Pfizer's cholesterol-lowering drug. As of Monday afternoon, Jarvik's photo still appeared on Pfizer's Web site advertising the drug.

But House Democrats said the ads could be misleading to consumers because Jarvik appeared to be giving medical advice, even though he is not licensed to practice medicine. While Jarvik holds a medical degree, he did not complete the certification requirements to practice medicine.
The study raises ethical questions about when it's acceptable to withhold perhaps futile treatment and let people die, and whether public health issues should ever be considered.


"Advanced dementia is a terminal illness," said study co-author Dr. Susan Mitchell, a senior scientist with the Harvard-affiliated Hebrew Senior Life Institute for Aging Research in Boston. "If we substituted 'end-stage cancer' for 'advanced dementia,' I don't think people would have any problem understanding this."

Many experts, including the Alzheimer's Association, consider Alzheimer's and other dementias to be fatal brain diseases. Patients die of infections such as pneumonia and other complications, but the underlying cause is damage to brain cells.
“Eating a big meal just before going to bed has been found in studies to elevate triglyceride levels in the blood for a period of time,” r. Louis J. Aronne, director of the comprehensive weight control program at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center, said. A higher triglyceride level “has been associated with metabolic syndrome and insulin resistance,” both related to weight gain, he said.


Dr. Aronne suggested a theoretical framework for why late meals may stay with you. “If you ate 500 calories during the day but walked around afterward, your muscles would be competing with your fat cells for the calories and could burn them up as energy for physical activity,” he said. “But if you consume it at bedtime, with no physical activity, the body has no choice but to store the calories away as fat.”
Heart disease in Europe claims over two million lives every year, and cost the European Union 192 million euros (285 million dollars) in 2006, a group of health organizations said Tuesday.


A statistical study by the European Society of Cardiology and the European Heart Network also shows huge differences across Europe in death rates due to coronary artery disease and strokes, the two main types of heart disease.

Several countries in eastern and northern Europe -- notably Romania, Bulgaria, Latvia and Estonia -- have mortality rates five to seven times higher than western European nations, especially France, Portugal and Switzerland, the study showed.
Another systematic review, by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, was published in the journal Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise in 2004. It looked at multiple studies and found that stretching “was not significantly associated with a reduction in total injuries,” but also concluded that more research was needed.


For now, many experts say that what may work is a quick warm-up, like low-impact aerobics or walking. It also helps to ease into an activity by starting off slow and then increasing speed, intensity or weight (for lifting).

Research suggests that stretching does not affect soreness or risk of injury during exercise.
Scientists are investigating other causes for the deterioration of brain function, including the deposition of a protein called amyloid in brain tissue. This process is thought to be accelerated by inflammation in the body.


Research shows that the foods we eat probably play a role in decreasing inflammation in the body. Taking this into account, the brain-healthy diet includes:

* Five to 10 servings of fruits and vegetables daily. This includes apples and onions for their flavonoids, dark green leafy vegetables such as kale and spinach for their carotenes, cooked tomatoes for lycopene (another carotene) and blueberries for their antioxidants.
Between August and October 2007 Food Standards Agency (FSA) surveyed 2627 people about if they had five or more portions of fruit and vegetables the day before being questioned. There were 58% positive answers, which shows an increase compared to 2006's 55%. However, the increase is too low to indicate healthy diet improvement.


Besides, the survey shows disparities between different social classes: AB class reported 71% positive answers, DE class reported 45% positive answers. This means, that higher social grades are more successful in diet management that lower ones.

Disparities also occur between men and women: 63% of surveyed women were able to manage five or more portions of fruit and vegetables compared to 54% men.
Dr. Kenneth R. Wilund and colleagues found that the overall gallstone weight was 2.5-fold greater in sedentary mice compared with mice that exercised. The researchers suggest that exercise may provide similar benefit to humans.


"The basic physiology of gallstone formation is pretty similar in humans and mice," Wilund told Reuters Health. Many of the proteins involved in the liver's cholesterol and bile acid metabolism are very similar, he said.

"So it is reasonable to suggest that the changes we believe were responsible for the reduction in gallstone formation in the exercise-trained mice could also occur in response to exercise training in humans," commented Wilund, of the University of Illinois, Urbana.

Super-Size that Organ Damage

If you ever see me eating fast-food, odds are I’ve got a gun pointed to my head. A quick burger and fries is a bad idea, and now, a new study has determined that fast food can stress the liver. ABC News reports:
In a new study, 18 slim, healthy Swedish men and women took on a fast food diet, eating meals from popular chains twice a day for four weeks while refraining from exercise.


At the end of the experiment, blood tests showed evidence that the subjects eating fast food had liver damage. They also had gained an average of 16 pounds.

The subjects were eating "an outrageously high amount" of calories, said Keith-Thomas Ayoob, associate professor of pediatrics at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York. Ayoob said the calorie intake was almost double the average daily caloric intake of most Americans, which is about 2,700 calories.

Studies have shown that a diet high in fat and calories — the magic recipe for delicious, greasy fast food — puts people at greater risk for obesity and type 2 diabetes, both of which can lead to cardiovascular diseases and heart failure.
How can a boardroom of fast-food executives live with themselves? I guess they just call the tobacco execs for support.

Some Decent Heart-Smart Tips...

Cathy Fitzgerald, a registered dietitian with the University of Michigan Health System, offers up some pretty good tips to stay heart-healthy in the supermarket. Here’s four I really liked:
  • Omega-3 fats. Omega-3 fats have been shown to benefit the heart. Fish such as salmon, tuna, mackerel and trout are good sources of omega fats and are low in saturated fat.
  • Sterols and stanols. Plant sterols and stanols are cholesterol-lowering substances often added to products like margarine and salad dressings. Review the label carefully to make sure a product states it offers the cholesterol-lowering benefits of plant sterols and stanols.
  • Sodium. Look for phrases like "low sodium" or "reduced sodium." This is especially important in processed and canned foods. If a food is labeled as "reduced" in sodium, it has 25 percent less salt than the regular product.
  • Trans fats. Eat trans fats sparingly, as they raise your bad cholesterol and lower your good cholesterol. Fried foods and processed foods that have a long shelf life are often loaded with them. The term "partially hydrogenated oil" on an ingredient's list indicates the food contains trans fats.
For the rest of the list, check out the report from HealthDay News: How to Be Heart Smart at the Supermarket.

Your Moody Heart

Mood effects a lot of things, work, relationships, and—believe it or not—your health; specifically your ticker. On The CBS Early Show, Dr. Mallika Marshall talks about the mind-body-heart connection. Here’s a snippet:
Marshall says there's "clearly a mind-body connection. The brain collects signals from all over the body and translates them into instructions, telling various organs how to function, including our hearts. For example, if we're cold, if we're hot, if we're dehydrated, if we're frightened -- the brain sends signals to the heart telling it to speed up, slow down, pump harder, etc. And our moods can have a significant effect on our hearts, as well. For example, research out of Harvard has found that recurrent heart attacks may be more closely linked to depression than to other risk factors such as cholesterol, smoking, blood pressure or diabetes."


The moods in question, Marshall points out, are the ones that make us feel rotten, both emotionally and physically. For example, sudden bursts of anger or intense stress cause the brain to increase the production of cortisol and other "fight-or-flight" hormones. Cortisol can affect the lining of blood vessels over time, and make heart attack and stroke more likely. Long-term depression can also affect the heart in several ways. It can trigger the release of substances that can cause inflammation in blood vessels, which may be linked to heart disease. And the actual deficiency of serotonin (the "feel-good" hormone in our brains) that can trigger depression may also make our blood clot more easily, also promoting heart disease.
So, next time you’re at the DMV—angrily weighing the option of homicide—think twice and relax.

Healthy Air, Healthy Blood Vessels

A Danish study has determined that using HEPA air filters in the home can improve the blood vessel function of older people. Anne Harding of Reuters reports:
While the couples were all non-smokers, the improvement seen in the study was "in the same ballpark" as would be seen after a person quits smoking, Dr. Steffen Loft of the Institute of Public Health in Copenhagen, the study's lead author, told Reuters Health.


There is a wealth of data on how breathing minute particles carried in the air, known as particulate matter, can worsen heart and lung disease and even increase mortality rates, Loft and his team note in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

To better understand how particulate matter in indoor air affects health, the researchers used a battery of tests to assess microvascular function and inflammation in 21 couples 60 to 75 years old after breathing nonfiltered air, and then after breathing filtered air for 48 hours.
Yeah, you try explaining to your grandparents how to work an air filter. Put it to you this way, my grandparents VCR has been flashing 12:00 for over ten years now!

Health Points: Friday

A recent review of scientific research suggests cranberries may offer a natural defense against the development of this dangerous disease. Researchers feel that many of these results are due to the fact that cranberries contain a greater concentration of antioxidants than other commonly consumed fruit and that these nutrients may be working together to offer even greater benefits.

The report conducted at Tufts University, and published in Nutrition Reviews, found that cranberries offered a range of different benefits that work to promote cardiovascular health. These benefits include effects on cholesterol as well as on blood pressure and the development of blood clots, all established risk factors for heart disease.
One in five of all male deaths and one in 20 of all female deaths between the ages of 30 and 69 will be caused by smoking, said the study, conducted by a team of doctors and scientists from India, Canada and Britain and published in the New England Journal of Medicine.


"The results we found surprised us, because smokers in India start later in life and smoke fewer cigarettes or 'bidis' than those in Europe or America, but the risks are as extreme as in the West," said Prabhat Jha of the Center for Global Health Research at the University of Toronto, the lead author of the study.
On average, the students gained 14 pounds, added 2.6 inches to their waistline, and padded their body fat percentage by 3.7% during the study.


Blood samples provided by the students throughout the study show a spike in levels of the liver enzyme alanine aminotransferase (ALT). ALT levels rose quickly -- typically within a week -- after the students started the fast-food diet.
Tuna is one of those annoying pregnancy foods that might be really, really good or really, really bad for the baby.


Instead of driving yourself crazy (like I did!) trying to guess the proper amount to ingest without putting increasing your mercury level to the point of now return, you can use the handy dandy Tuna Calculator that will give you a suggested weekly serving based on your weight.
PCC Natural Markets is prohibiting suppliers from using cloned animal products in their food. It also wants them to disclose where ingredients are from and what they mean by terms such as "natural flavors."


These moves come months after the Seattle chain eliminated high-fructose corn syrup from its eight stores and began identifying the countries of origin for its meat, seafood, peanuts and fresh and frozen produce.
According to the research, red wine and alcohol consumption were found to have virtually identical impact on health, with one drink of either substance helping to reduce the work rate of the heart.


The findings, which are published in the February edition of the American Journal of Physiology, Heart and Circulatory Physiology, could challenge the perception that polyphenol content of red wine is responsible for cardiovascular benefits.

Red wine has been linked to extended survival rates of mice and prevented the negative effects of high-calorie diets, in other testing, due to the presence of the polyphenol, resveratrol.
"You're in a dark, gloomy place," said Bruce Hollis, a leading vitamin D researcher at the Medical University of South Carolina. "In the winter, you could stand outside naked for five hours and nothing is going to happen."


Increased use of sunscreen has turned a seasonal shortfall into a year-round condition for many people. A recent survey in Britain found 87 percent of adults tested during winter, and more than 60 percent in summer, had subpar vitamin D levels. Doctors in many parts of the world — including California — report a resurgence of childhood rickets, soft bones caused by lack of vitamin D.
Tobacco giants Philip Morris, British American Tobacco and Japan Tobacco actively collude with cigarette smugglers to gain a foothold in lucrative developing markets, campaigners alleged on Wednesday.


"Transnationals benefit in a number of ways from the illicit trade in tobacco," said Kathyrn Mulvey, director of international policy with the lobby group Corporate Accountability International (CAI).

Food Scoring Guide: Weight Loss and Cholesterol

When you drop body fat, your cholesterol lowers somewhat. But when you reduce animal protein intake and increase vegetable protein intake, your cholesterol lowers dramatically. In fact, when a high-fiber, high-nutrient, vegetable-heavy diet was tested in a scientific investigation, it was found to lower cholesterol even more than most cholesterol-lowering drugs.1 As you eat more vegetables and fewer animal products, the nutrient density of your diet will go up automatically. Vegetables not only contain adequate protein, they have no saturated fat or cholesterol, and they are higher in nutrients per calorie than any other food. You can achieve your ideal weight and slow the aging process with a high phytochemical intake. So eat more vegetables!

The cholesterol-lowering effects of vegetables and beans (high-protein foods) are without question. However, they contain an assortment of additional heart disease-fighting nutrients independent of their ability to lower cholesterol.2 They fight cancer, too. Cancer incidence worldwide has an inverse relation with fruit and vegetable intake.3 If you increase your intake 80%, the risk of getting cancer drops 80%.
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Clots and Clots of Heart News

“What we eat during our childhood affects our lifetime cholesterol levels,” explains Dr. Fuhrman. Makes sense, after all. You are what you eat! Here’s more from Dr. Fuhrman:
There is considerable evidence that the lipoprotein abnormalities (high LDL and low HDL) that are linked to heart attack deaths in adulthood begin to develop in early childhood and that higher cholesterol levels eventually get “set” by early food habits.1
If you’re building a house and you lay a bad foundation, over time, bad things will happen. Need proof? A new study has uncovered lots of young adults with clogged arteries. Reuters reports:
The researchers said their findings suggest a four-decade-long trend of declines in heart disease may be about to come to a screeching halt.


They studied autopsy reports from younger people in one Minnesota county who died from accidents, suicide and murder and found most had clogged arteries and more than 8 percent had significant disease…

"…The dietary quality has deteriorated over the last 15 years," Dr. Philip Mellen of the Hattiesburg Clinic in Mississippi said in a telephone interview.

"In our study, the youngest age group was the age group with the worse disease," he said. "This age group will have major problems as they continue to age."
Now, the authors of this study cite junk-food as a culprit. Perhaps triglycerides should be added to that list. First, let’s find out what they are and why they are bad. Take it away Dr. Fuhrman:
Triglycerides comprise the largest proportion of fats (lipids) in the diet, in the adipose tissue, and in the blood. Immediately after a fatty meal, triglycerides rise in the bloodstream. We store triglycerides in our fatty tissues and muscle as a source of energy, and gradually release and metabolize it between meals according to the energy needs of the body. Only a small portion of your triglycerides is found in the bloodstream. High blood triglyceride levels are reflective of increased body fat stores. High triglycerides further promote and contribute to atherosclerosis in people with high cholesterol.
And what foods are the major harbingers of triglycerides? The insidious and always bad, white flour and refined grains. Dr. Fuhrman talks about them:
White flour and other refined grains such as sweetened breakfast cereals, soft drinks, other sweets, and even fruit juices are weight-promoting and not only lead to diabetes, but can raise triglycerides and cholesterol levels, increasing heart attack risk.
So, it should be no surprise that new research is linking triglyceride levels to the risk of coronary disease. Ed Edelson of HealthDay News reports:
"Triglycerides traditionally have been viewed as second-class citizens," said Dr. Michael Miller, director of preventive cardiology at the University of Maryland Medical Center and lead author of the report in the Feb. 12 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.. "LDL cholesterol has always taken center stage. We know that LDL is intimately involved in bringing cholesterol to scavenger cells, which deposit them to form plaques in the arteries. This study shows that triglycerides in and of themselves are also lipids to blame."


The original study was designed to test the effectiveness of two LDL-lowering statins, Pravachol and Lipitor, in reducing recurring coronary disease after a heart attack. The new study went over the data on the 4,162 participants in the trial, looking at the association between triglyceride levels and the incidence of heart problems and death.

"The patients who had heart attacks came back after 30 days," said Miller. "We measured LDL levels and triglyceride levels and followed them over the next two years, evaluating for the occurrence of new events and death. If a patient had triglyceride levels below 150 [milligrams per deciliter], there was a 27 percent lower risk of having a new event over time. After multiple adjustments, for such things as age, diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity, the risk reduction was 20 percent."
News like this HAS to inspire people to clean up their diets—right? Not necessarily, because in many cases even a diagnosis of heart disease isn’t enough to prompt a change in diet. Anne Harding of Reuters explains:
A one-year follow-up study of patients with heart disease found that few are meeting recommendations for fruit, vegetable and fiber intake, and they were eating a "disturbing" amount of trans fat, Dr. Yunsheng Ma and colleagues from the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester found.


They surveyed 555 people about their eating habits one year after they had been diagnosed with heart disease using coronary angiography. All had suffered some type of cardiac event, such as heart attack, abnormal heart rhythm, or chest pain.

To gauge the quality of their diets, the researchers used the Alternate Healthy Eating Index (AHEI), which measures several aspects of heart-healthy eating such as fruit and vegetable consumption, amount of trans fat consumed, and ratio of white to red meat eaten.

On average, patients scored 30.8 on the AHEI, out of a possible 80. Just 12.4 percent were eating five or more servings of vegetables a day, while 7.8 percent were eating at least four servings of fruit each day. Fewer than 8 percent met recommendations for cereal fiber consumption.

And while public health guidelines recommend getting less than 0.5 percent of total calories from trans fat, people in the study consumed an average of 3.41 percent of their calories in trans fat form.
Sad, but I think I’ve said it before. You can show people all the research and reports in the world, but until pandemonium hits their doorstep, they won’t do a freaking thing and even then, who knows.
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Congress onto Jarvick-Lipitor Ad Deal

Here’s more on the congressional investigation into Lipitor’s advertising campaign featuring Dr. Robert Jarvik; pioneer of the artificial heart. Stephanie Saul of The New York Times reports:
The demand for records was made in letters mailed Thursday to nine advertising firms thought to be involved in Dr. Jarvik’s advertising campaign for Lipitor, the cholesterol medication that is the world’s top-selling drug.


The letters from Representatives John D. Dingell and Bart Stupak, both Michigan Democrats, said the House Energy and Commerce Committee and its subcommittee on oversight and investigations were investigating “false and misleading statements and the use of celebrity endorsements of prescription medications in direct-to-consumer advertising.”

The committee released a copy of Dr. Jarvik’s contract with Lipitor’s maker, Pfizer, revealing that the company agreed to pay Dr. Jarvik, a pioneer in artificial hearts, a minimum of $1,350,000 over two years for serving as celebrity pitchman for Lipitor.
For background on this whole Jarvick-Lipitor mess, check out Jarvik on the Hot Seat. It kicked up a good comment stream. Take a look:
Paige: "For many people like me, diet and exercise aren't enough."


Me: Same here! The other commercials that REALLY annoy me are the Vytorin TV ads, the ones with the family and food. Makes me insane! Grrrrr!
Speaking of Vytorin, Julie Upton, RD of Poked & Prodded is less than impressed by Vytorin’s hard-to-swallow claims. Here’s a bit:
You’ve probably heard about the study that says that the popular cholesterol-lowering drug, Vytorin, might not slow the progression of heart disease.


You probably also know the drug’s annoying ads that go “Cholesterol. It can come from … barbecued ribs and from your Grandma Barbie.… Cholesterol comes from two sources: food and family….”

Soon, however, you may stop seeing those ads, because Vytorin seems to be no better at preventing the buildup of arterial plaque than first-generation statin medications like Lipitor and Zocor or its less expensive generic, simvastatin. The results are making many nervous statin-takers wonder if their medication is actually reducing their odds of developing coronary artery disease.
I often wonder. Who watches these commercials then runs out and asks their doctor to prescribe them—nuts!

Jarvik on the Hot Seat

It seems there is mounting concern over Dr. Robert Jarvik—pioneer of the artificial heart—appearing in Lipitor advertisements. Stephanie Saul of The New York Times reports:
A Congressional committee, concerned that the Lipitor ads could be misleading, has said it wants to interview Dr. Jarvik about his role as the drug’s pitchman.


Some of the questions may involve his credentials. Even though Dr. Jarvik holds a medical degree, for example, he is not a cardiologist and is not licensed to practice medicine. So what, critics ask, qualifies him to recommend Lipitor on television — even if, as he says in some of the ads, he takes the drug himself?

And, for that matter, what qualifies him to pose as a rowing enthusiast? As it turns out, Dr. Jarvik, 61, does not actually practice the sport. The ad agency hired a stunt double for the sculling scenes.
These ads have never sat will with me. Honestly, they reek of Dr. Jarvik “selling out.” Know what I mean? Here, decide for yourself:


I don’t know, these ads just leave a bad taste in my mouth.

Diabetes Study Derailed Due to Deaths

Dr. Fuhrman’s got a question for you, “How can diabetics safely lower the high glucose levels that are slowly destroying their bodies?” Oh, that’s simple you—wait, lets explore this—what about gastric surgery? It was recently reported to be a good idea. From The New York Times:
Weight-loss surgery works much better than standard medical therapy as a treatment for Type 2 diabetes in obese people, the first study to compare the two approaches has found.


The study, of 60 patients, showed that 73 percent of those who had surgery had complete remissions of diabetes, meaning all signs of the disease went away. By contrast, the remission rate was only 13 percent in those given conventional treatment, which included intensive counseling on diet and exercise for weight loss, and, when needed, diabetes medicines like insulin, metformin and other drugs.


In the study, the surgery worked better because patients who had it lost much more weight than the medically treated group did — 20.7 percent versus 1.7 percent of their body weight, on average. Type 2 diabetes is usually brought on by obesity, and patients can often lessen the severity of the disease, or even get rid of it entirely, by losing about 10 percent of their body weight. Though many people can lose that much weight, few can keep it off without surgery.
Yeah, I don’t know about this. I mean, maybe it’s a good idea, if you consider serious complications a key component of success. Hopefully this chart will help you think twice before you run out and get your tummy sliced open. Take a look:


Okay, in our age of modern medicine, drugs, drugs, and more drugs must be the answer! Yeah, if you don’t mind THE DYING! Recently, a diabetes study had to be halted because aggressively driving blood sugar levels towards normal was found to increase the risk of death in some diabetics. The Washington Post reports:
The startling discovery, announced yesterday, prompted federal health officials to immediately halt one part of the large trial so thousands of the Type 2 diabetes patients in the study could switch to less-intensive treatment.


"As always, our primary concern is to protect the safety of our study volunteers," said Elizabeth G. Nabel, director of the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, which is sponsoring the study.

Although the reason for the increased risk remains a mystery, Nabel and other experts stressed that the benefits of blood sugar control have been well established for diabetics and said patients should not make any changes in their care without consulting their doctors.

But the findings cast doubt on a major hope about diabetes treatment -- that pushing levels below current targets would be beneficial -- and would force experts to rethink how to treat one of the nation's leading health problems.

"It's profoundly disappointing," said Richard Kahn, chief scientific and medical officer for the American Diabetes Association. "This presents a real dilemma to patients and their physicians. How intensive should treatment be? We just don't know."

The findings are the second major blow to widespread assumptions about how to protect against heart disease -- the nation's leading killer. Another recent major study found that driving blood cholesterol levels as low as possible did not necessarily slow the progression of heart disease.
As you can imagine, Dr. Fuhrman was less than surprised by these results. Here’s what he had to say about it. Have a look:
It basically illustrates that giving diabetics more medication to better control their glucose numbers leads to more heart attacks; more medicine equals more heart attacks. Diabetes is a disease arising out of nutritional ignorance, obesity and lack of exercise and activity. The prescription must be nutritional excellence for an excellent outcome. Most diabetics who follow a nutrient-dense vegetable-based diet not only reduce their medication use, but they actually get rid of their diabetes and become non-diabetic.
So, back to Dr. Fuhrman’s original question, “How can diabetics safely lower the high glucose levels that are slowly destroying their bodies?” Well—as we just found out—nutritional excellence is a huge part of it. More form Dr. Fuhrman:
I have achieved marked success with diabetic patients and the success at becoming "non diabetic" or almost "non-diabetic" regularly occurs on the nutritarian program whether the patient follows a strict vegan diet or not. I describe the diet-style as a "vegetable-based" diet because the base of the pyramid is vegetables, not grains. Even though most animal products are excluded, it is not necessary to adopt a completely vegan diet to achieve the goals.


I offer patients the choice of adding two servings a week of low-fat fish, such as tilapia, flounder, sole, and scrod, as well as an egg-white omelet, once or twice each week. A few servings of very low-saturated-fat animal products each week can be interspersed with the vegan meals without diminishing the results achievable from the vegetable-based diet.
And lets not forget an obvious—but often overlooked—component of preventing and fighting diabetes is exercise. Let’s check back in with Dr. Fuhrman:
The most effective prescription for diabetes is exercise. An essential component of my prescription for diabetes is daily exercise; it is more important than daily medication. Two hundred calories a day of formal exercise on an incline treadmill and an elliptical machine are a great goal to shoot for. It is not an official recommendation of anyone except me.
Seriously, it’s a win-win situation for diabetics. You get to eat delicious food, stay active, lose weight, feel good, and, kick your diabetes in the butt. Can’t get much better than that!
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Almonds the Magnificent!

Almonds are great! I eat some everyday. Like this recipe for example. Have a look:
Almond-Carob Fudge
1/2 cup dates
1/4 cup soy milk
1 cup raw almond butter
1/2 cup raw carob powder
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Chop dates and cover overnight with the soy milk to soften. Mash and mix all ingredients, including the soy milk soak, together and press in glass dish. Chill in refrigerator or freezer before cutting to serve. Serves 4.
That’s Fit forgot about almonds, but, has recently rediscovered them. Check it out:
A handful of almonds can make for a great, healthy snack. Packed with good fats, vitamin E, and calcium, almonds can help protect against a myriad of physical maladies.


In fact, a recent study, conducted at the University of Toronto, led to the discovery that eating about an ounce of almonds per day can lead to a decrease in LDL cholesterol by as much as 20 percent over time. Incredibly, this decrease in LDL is comparable to the reduction caused by some medications.
Hey, Dr. Fuhrman would never forget about nuts and seeds, especially for the heart. He explains:
Perhaps one of the most unexpected and novel findings in nutritional epidemiology in the past five years has been that nut consumption offers such strong protection against heart disease. Several clinical studies have observed beneficial effects of diets high in nuts (including walnuts, peanuts, almonds, and other nuts) on blood lipids.1 A review of 23 intervention trials using nuts and seeds demonstrated convincingly that eating nuts daily decreases total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol.2 Not only do nuts and seeds lower LDL (bad) cholesterol and raise HDL (good) cholesterol, they can help normalize a dangerous type of LDL molecule (the small, dense LDL particles that damage the endothelial cells that line the blood vessels).3
See…its okay to go nuts!
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Weight-Loss Good, Seriously

Well, not exactly earth-shattering news, but new research claims losing weight by either diet or exercise is good for the heart. Reuters is on it:
Researchers found that among 25 healthy but overweight middle-aged adults, moderate weight loss appeared to restore some the heart's youthful elasticity -- making it easier for the heart to relax between contractions and refill with blood.


It did not appear to matter whether the weight loss was achieved through diet changes or exercise, the researchers report in the American Journal of Physiology.

"If individuals want to do something that's good for their heart, then my message to them is lose weight by the method they find most tolerable," Dr. Sandor J. Kovacs, the senior researcher on the study, said in a statement.

"They're virtually guaranteed that it will have a salutary effect on their cardiovascular system," said Kovacs, a professor of medicine at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Missouri.
This reminds me of a report that came out this fall. It’s about how exercise can help prevent heart failure. Here’s a refresher from Amanda Gardner of HealthDay News:
According to two studies that were to be presented Wednesday at the American Heart Association annual meeting in Orlando, Fla., that response can dramatically enhance patients' ability to move and work out.


"Both studies point to the beneficial effect of exercise on patients with heart failure," said Dr. Sidney Smith, past president of the American Heart Association and director of the Center for Cardiovascular Science and Medicine at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine.

"These observations provide some understanding into the mechanisms which [make exercise helpful]," Smith said.

More than 5 million people in the United States have heart failure, a condition that affects the heart's ability to pump blood throughout the body.
And listen, we all know that adhering to a healthful diet is extremely heart-healthy. Take avoiding saturated fat for example. Dr. Fuhrman explains:
Saturated fat is the element of the modern diet that shows the most powerful association in these medical research studies with high cholesterol and premature death from heart attacks.1
In light of all this, I figured now is a great time to interject this quote from, my hero, Howard Stern. He dropped this on Wednesday’s show. Take a look:
I believe diet is the key for getting rid of a lot of illness.
Short, sweet, and to the point. Thanks Howard!
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Expensively Sick

Julie’s Health Club relays a list of America’s top ten medical costs. Scary stuff, my wallet hurts just looking at it. Check it out:
  1. Heart conditions ($76 billion)
  2. Trauma disorders ($72 billion)
  3. Cancer ($70 billion)
  4. Mental disorders, including depression ($56.0 billion)
  5. Asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease ($54 billion)
  6. High blood pressure ($42 billion)
  7. Type 2 diabetes ($34 billion)
  8. Osteoarthritis and other joint diseases ($34 billion)
  9. Back problems ($32 billion)
  10. Normal childbirth* ($32 billion)
*Normal childbirth means without medical complications or surgical procedures. C-sections are not included in the normal childbirth category.
This list gets even more frightening when you consider the over-arching cost of obesity. Dr. Fuhrman offers up some facts and figures:
The number one health problem in the United States is obesity, and if the current trend continues, by the year 2230 all adults in the United States will be obese. The National Institutes of Health estimate that obesity is associated with a twofold increase in mortality, costing society more than $100 billion per year.1
Wows, it certainly pays to be healthy.
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